Anxiety and Stress in Large Public Elementary School: How Much is Too Much? Have You Pulled Your Son From Mainstream School and Transferred Him to. Smaller, Alternative School? Advice appreciated.

Recess. 2nd Grade. Balls Flying. Fast Running 2nd-5th graders "swooshing" past from behind. The Aide is chatting with the recess monitor. Now there is nothing to grab onto for balance. An Intense fear of falling masqueraded by a posed appearance of just fine. Longing to horse around with his friends on the play structure, he takes a deep breath and navigates the 5 short unstable steps through what seems to him like like an ocean of tan bark to join them from below. He made it, but feels unsteady on the tan bark, and plays with the kids aground in a silent and undetectable hell of high alert, for one may jump off and knock him over. He catches sight of the tree. An unremarkable tall tree near the play structure that has terrified him since the first day of Kindergarden. Back through the tan bark he carefully navigates to get far away from the tree. He can't go watch his friends playing basketball, the tree is closer to there than to the play structure. So he joins his friends playing the farthest away from the tree. They are playing Knights. Imaginary sword fighting. He loves that. He joins the group of imaginary sword fighting friends. Another private hell of hell of anxiety. How could they possibly know to keep the imaginary swords back from him a bit? Imaginary swords and the stronger friends swording them move in close and the bodies behind the imaginary swords fight closer. He gets knocked down. The Aide misses it. The whistle blows, hurry one and all to line up. The kids bolt. He gets up and gets in line, but the line was swift to move forward. There is a largish gap in the line between Him and his classmates. The elevator is broken. There are 17 stairs to climb.

As he does, a fountain of fatigue and devastation and stress untraceable to the masses consumes him. He has writing now. Math, Spelling. Reading soon will come. He is exhausted. His legs hurt from stair climbing. And he cries inside that it was harder to get up the stairs than the last time. Time to write. He is angry now. His hand sweats, his arm is sore from imaginary sword fighting and holding the stair rail puling himself up those 17 steps. He grips the pencil tighter, tries harder with some success, but has one eye on his classmates writing faster. Frustrated and mad as hell at his DMD he erupts. Shouts out, refuses to do his lesson, talks back to the teacher, disrupts the entire class and earns himself yet another trip to the office. His name on the board. Benched for recess tomorrow. He could care less. He's been a frequent flier in the office for while, and a more frequent bench sitter at recess. Sitting in the office, benched for recess tomorrow, he exhales now. He is not writing, the kid sent to the office delights in a private victory of sorts, he rests his hand wrist arm shoulder and neck, and he is benched at recess tomorrow.

He knew he would be. He hates recess but no one knows it. He is happy in the office. Trips to the office mean He will not have to be scared tomorrow of flying balling, swooshing kids, the tall tree, play structures, imaginary swords.,or falling down.

The relentless worry wheel he lives on slows down some in the office Then it's time to go back to class. Directly Across the hall. Less than 10 steps. It's the end of the day, he has been excused from the office, but he can't leave the yet. Kids are swooshing up and down the hall with rolling backpacks. He can't get across without getting knocked down. His Aide comes for him, he holds onto her hand for dear life.


Ok so is anyone else's son faking to the masses he is ok in mainstream school or acting like a jerk to get out of recess and writing because he is quietly anxious and panicked as hell all day long? If so,
Did you transfer him to a smaller school, an alternative or experiential learning school perhaps?

Here's the thing. I'm happy with the school. They have bent over backwards to accommodate my son.
I just can't get my head around how being terrified all day could possibly be the best school life we can offer him. For me, it's not the academics, accommodations, IEP or else.

It's about the quality of his school related emotional, social, psychological, mental, and behavioral health.

I want to transfer him to a very small, experiential learning school for third grade come the new school year. No swooshing, no flying balls, no Simon Says, His Dad thinks he is fine staying put.

I guess it's that it's not that he's not fine. I just think he could be more fine, and it's our responsibility to ensure we put him where he will be the most fine.

Does that make sense to anyone?

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thank you a lot for this amazing article and for posting it here. I've just registered but this site looks amazing to me. We have found out not so long ago that our child is suffering from social anxiety and we are trying hard to cope with it. we have been said that we might try social anxiety medications but we refuse. we are trying to have home schooling with him because it is very hard for him to go to a normal school. I am hope so much that he is going to be fine because as Shawn said, kids are kids and I really hope that he is going to move on onto the next thing and would build up some more self aware and self esteem. the medications that I have been said to give him I'm afraid that would interfere with his brain and this would lead to even bigger problems. he is only 10 years old and I hope very much that soon he's going to be fine. I think that large public elementary school plays a big role in all of it. 

Nancyc.. I have similar concerns regarding my 6 yr old... Check your inbox

So far Kindergarten has been pretty good but we have had issues with recess and getting pushed over. His teacher talked to the class and I think it has helped but I do wonder what is "best". I'd love a smaller school and more adults out there for recess but I know that won't happen. The school wouldn't do a 504 plan but we got a health plan. They followed it at first but I think with so many kids the teachers and staff forget. I'm thinking of options for first grade but he loves to play and is a chatty kid. 

Thank you for your post. Your narrative was spot on for what my child experiences....anxiety, frustration, and fatigue at PE, recess, and writing.

We found a virtual school offered as a charter school in our state. We are enrolling for next year. It's essentially home schooling with the curriculum already set up. Teachers go to work and webcast their lesson live (or you can watch it at your convenience). They communicate with the child and his/her family via email. Standardized testing occurs at a time and location that is pre scheduled. The program can be joined privately as well - it's called Connections Academy. They have field trips, lunch and learns and encourage social connection through clubs. The best part - no recess and no group P.E. My son can still complete P.E. at his own pace - yoga is even an option in lieu of jump rope/running. We are eager to start and are committing to 4th and 5th grades. After that, we will reassess. 

I pulled my son from school and placed him on home instruction by the dept of education. He goes out socially as he can handle it. Have you thought of a k9 companion?
When Christopher was in the middle of first grade, we switched him from public to a small, Montessori school. His challenges weren't just the physical deterioration of DMD, he also suffered from some cognitive delay, processing difficulties, and ADD-inattentive type symptoms. He was spending time in the "brown chair" each day at the public school (His teacher's name was Miss Brown and this was her time out chair.) of the first things he said after he started Montessori was: " I don't have to sit in the brown chair anymore." That just about broke my heart. The change was immediate. He was so much happier. It wasn't a cure all, he still had difficulty focusing and sticking with tasks, but being in a smaller, more accepting environment made it so much better for him. He went to a large, public high school but by then, he was using a power wheelchair so there was no fear of falling. I knew that the transition might be difficult, so we got him a service dog and he went to school with Christopher during his freshman year. It really helped attract people to him. He stopped taking him because no matter what he did, students were feeding him and petting him and it was stressing Christopher out. But, he really helped him with that transition. He still struggled academically, but joined the marching band and even traveled by bus from Florida to Texas to perform in the half time at the Cotton Bowl. His academic struggles continued as he attended the local college and he switched gears from a traditional degree program to a certification program in Computer Aided Design. He completed his certification and now works a few days a week. As I look back on Christopher's educational past, I wouldn't change a thing. Good luck to you and your son.

I found out years later one of Johnnys teacher kept putting him in the time out chair.  If I saw her now I would punch her face in.  This was before his diagnose.


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